Reply To: AGD’s account of King’s Quest

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“… (by DJ ) <<< Not really a fitting end to such a series, but I guess spectacular flameouts like that are to be expected when the company gets sold off and the core devteam either leaves or gets fired. If you want another case study, look what happened to Ultima. >>

What happened to the Ultima series? Was the final game a disappointment? I remember playing Ultima in the early 90’s… I remember # 7 — “The Black Gate” — had a fabulous ending with that monster yelling “d*mn you, Avatar!” etc. Did Richard Garriot (aka Lord British) stop designing?

Anyhow, is the KQ9 game expected to close out the series, or leave open the possibility for more KQ games?


The Ultima VII’s were some of my favorite games. But then EA picked up Origin and things started getting weird. Ultima 8 wasn’t that bad story wise, but it was an incredibly frustrating game. They put in these ridiculous arcade-style sequences where you had to get across, say, a lake and you had to jump the stones to do it. The jump length was fixed so if you made a misstep (very easy to do) you’d die and get to spend 5 mins restoring, as the game was quite a pig. Eventually they released a patch that allowed you to double-click where you wanted to jump and the Avatar would bullseye it. That made the game playable. Wasn’t anywhere near as good as the previous Ultimas though. The thing that ticked me off most about U8 is that they took a step backwards and got rid of the close-up character portraits that U7 was known for. Overall, U8 had the feel of a game that was hammered out because someone didn’t have anything better to do at the time.

Where do I begin with Ultima IX? Let’s just say it was released 6 months before it was done. It was literally unplayable and broke all sorts of common sense rules, the first one being “Don’t render objects the player can’t see..Like, say, the entire game world that’s outside of the room you’re locked in”. I had a pretty beefy system at the time and that thing was wheezing on U9. After an endless stream of patches, it resembled a somewhat playable game, but there were still a lot of quest killers. One of the quests was to get a dagger sigil, and that involved killing three demons. However, it was possible to kill all of them early in the game BEFORE you took on the quest. If that was the case, no dagger sigil for the player, and no way to finish the game. I almost fell into that trap…Luckly I only found two of the three demons. Had I found the last one I probably never would have seen the end of the game. There were also problems with savegames going corrupt, the player getting stuck in a perpetual poisoned state, etc. Yeah, it was good stuff. The story was so-so. By no means was that game adequate to top off a series lasting more than 20 years.

Richard Garriott still had a hand in designing the later Ultimas, but was probably marginalized after the buyout, and maybe figured “Why bother? I’ve made my millions”. He hasn’t dropped off the face of the earth, though.. I heard he’s running the American arm of the company that’s doing City of Heroes.

I’m certainly not an authority on KQ9. I don’t have any inside scoop and all I know about it is derived from tidbits and screenshots I see on the site. I’ve seen some posts from the lead, Caesar Bittar, around here and my understanding is that there is enough of a script to win a paper drive trophy at the local elementary school. I’ve got to think that it will be a pretty cool game.